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I recently migrated a user from OS X 10.4 to 10.5. When we run, it will crash when certain messages are clicked.

I've tried everything I could to get the mail in in a different way -- importing it in different ways, deleting ~/Library/Preferences/, and re-importing, etc.

It certainly seems that the problem is tied to the individual message, as clicking on a certain message, even if it is in different folders (because of the way it was imported) causes the crash.

Most of the dozen-or-so crash logs start like this:

Process:         Mail [17905] Path:   
Version:         3.3 (926.1) Build
Info:      Mail-9260100~1 Code Type:  
X86 (Native) Parent Process:  launchd

Date/Time:       2009-09-29
10:47:52.713 -0600 OS Version:     
Mac OS X 10.5.7 (9J61) Report Version:
6 Anonymous UUID: 

Exception Type:  EXC_BAD_ACCESS
(SIGSEGV) Exception Codes:
0x0000000089082454 Crashed Thread:  0

Application Specific Information:
-[MessageContentController _fetchContentsForMessage:fromStore:withViewingState:]

One entry shows:

Application Specific Information:
-[MessageTransfer _synchronouslyPerformTransfer]
+[Library synchronouslyUpdateMessageFiles]
-[MessageContentController _fetchContentsForMessage:fromStore:withViewingState:]


Do see my comments to the answer(s) below.

I was able to determine which file corresponds to which e-mail. First, I had to figure out where the e-mail folder was. Looking in ~/Library/ helped. (I think running

defaults read | grep AccountPath

will get that information)

In this case, the folder was analogous to:


I then went to that directory, and issued this command:

grep -r . -e "^From: " -e "^Subject: " -e "^Date: " -m 3 > summary.txt

I then opened the file and searched in it. Searching for the subject makes it easy to see which file the message resides in.

Having done that, I looked at some of the files -- and nothing appears to be amiss to me :(

Update 2 - Ongoing Problem

I had hopes that this only affected older e-mails, but an e-mail received yesterday (Oct 21) also exhibits the problem.

Update 3 - System Log

Curiously, when I opened the console as the user, nothing showed up in the "All Messages" or "Console Messages" section. Here is what I got from tailing the system.log, when I opened Mail, selected a message that would crash it, and repeated the process a second time:

Oct 23 10:01:29 [computer-name] Console[56949]: Error: status 2 returned by _asl_server_query
Oct 23 10:01:39 [computer-name] ReportCrash[57070]: Formulating crash report for process Mail[56828]
Oct 23 10:01:40 [computer-name] ReportCrash[57070]: Saved crashreport to /Users/[user-name]/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/Mail_2009-10-23-100136_[computer-name].crash using uid: 504 gid: 504, euid: 504 egid: 504
Oct 23 10:01:40 [computer-name][296] ([0x0-0x14c14c][56828]): Exited abnormally: Segmentation fault
Oct 23 10:02:01 [computer-name] ReportCrash[57098]: Formulating crash report for process Mail[57085]
Oct 23 10:02:02 [computer-name] ReportCrash[57098]: Saved crashreport to /Users/[user-name]/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/Mail_2009-10-23-100159_[computer-name].crash using uid: 504 gid: 504, euid: 504 egid: 504
Oct 23 10:02:02 [computer-name][296] ([0x0-0x150150][57085]): Exited abnormally: Segmentation fault
Oct 23 10:03:02 [computer-name] Console[56949]: Error: status 2 returned by _asl_server_query

Additional Question

It occurs to me that there is a slight chance that the data is good and the application (or one of the libraries or frameworks it depends upon) is corrupt. Is there a good way to check? (I could recursively md5sum the whole hard drive, and do that on a machine that has a pristine image, but there would still be a lot of noise in the data, I'm sure.)

I am copying the library folder from the old partition and will try to restore it on a different computer.

share|improve this question
Are the messages only stored locally (eg. POP account) or is it possible to resyncronize the account (eg. IMAP)? – Chealion Sep 29 '09 at 21:28
The messages are in a POP account. – Clinton Blackmore Sep 29 '09 at 22:33
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Unless I have overlooked, I don't find that you have mentioned the version of 10.5 you are using. I had crashing when opening attachments (and even reading some messages) issue when I was running 10.5.4. I upgraded to 10.5.5, but the problem persisted. From 10.5.5, I made a whopping jump to 10.5.8, which came with a new version of that completely fixed the problem. no longer crashed. I have since upgraded to Snow Leopard, which I believe also brings the latest version of I have been happy since.

share|improve this answer
It is running 10.5.7. I'll try upgrading it; that is a good idea. – Clinton Blackmore Oct 23 '09 at 16:41
Hooray! It worked. I did use the combo updater, just in case the regular updater would miss something. I can't believe the solution was so simple. – Clinton Blackmore Oct 23 '09 at 17:38

Just to reiterate, the problem is: even though the mail store itself has been migrated successfully into 10.5, will crash when trying to view certain individual messages.

You need to check a few things of course.

  • First add the attachments view column, View->Columns->Attachments. See if the messages that make mail crash correspond with attachments.
  • Second deduce if there is something common amongst all the messages that crash.
  • Third test to see if the same mail message will consistently make the app crash. If it does then at least you know it's a problem with the messages and not the app.

    Also, try disabling the built in ACL's to see if it's some sort of permissions error. On the command line type: fsaclctl -p / -d

    Please let us know what you find.

  • share|improve this answer
    Acknowledged; thank you. Your understanding on the migration is correct. I know that specific messages will, when selected (and before displaying anything) make Mail crash 100% of the time. I will have to look into your other points when I have a chance (hopefully tomorrow). – Clinton Blackmore Oct 21 '09 at 23:04
    All the messages that cause the crash have attachments (but not all messages with attachments cause a crash). I haven't determined any other commonalities. It is something related to the message; a given message will always cause the app to crash (although I did have a hang once). Disabling the ACLs did not seem to help. The user owns all the files in the Mail Downloads folder. Some have extended attributes; it does not appear to be ACLs but " 32" when viewed with ls -l@e – Clinton Blackmore Oct 22 '09 at 16:27
    On a whim, I quit Mail and renamed ~/Library/Mail Downloads. I then opened a message with an attachment and double-clicked on it. I was surprised when it opened. There is now a new Mail Downloads folder with the one file in it. I take that to mean that downloads are stored with the original message until someone requests them. Mail still crashes when I select certain messages. – Clinton Blackmore Oct 22 '09 at 16:33
    Yes, the attachment is stored in the email and then extracted out when requested. I'm not sure what else I can suggest at this point to solve the problem. It sounds like it's working better than before at least. – Jordan Eunson Oct 22 '09 at 17:05

    Did you check with (left panel : Database -> all messages) if they were any third-party plugins or extensions that were loaded before Mail launches or before you read those crashing emails ?

    If the problem comes from something other than Mail, it should be log there.

    share|improve this answer
    That does not appear to be the case. I don't believe there are any extensions to Mail installed, and (see my updates to the post), there doesn't appear to be anything in the system.log about it. – Clinton Blackmore Oct 23 '09 at 16:21

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